Monday, July 6, 2015

A Fresh View

These Listerine Cities
with apologies to John Ashbery

These Listerine cities grew out of antiseptic swishing
Into something frothful, although angry with hygiene.
They are the product of an idea: that man is stinky, for instance,
Though this is only one example.

They emerged until a clear blue bottle
Controlled the faux-marble countertop, and with artifice dipped back
Into the glass for pimples and feigning poses,
Burning the tongue, until all that hate of germs was transformed into useless freshness.

Then you are left with an idea of your breath
And the feeling of ascending alcohols of the early-morning or late-night rinsing
Which must be charged to the embarrassment of the others in the mirror
Who fly by you like so many Chiclets or Tic Tacs.

The robot toothbrush of German design is a sentinel.
Much of your brushing has been occupied by staring past the mad animal mouth to voided eyes
Until now, but we have all-inclusive dental plans for you.
We had thought, for instance, of sending your teeth to space,

To an exotic and violent whitening treatment, the closeness of the others like stale air
To you, pressing you back into a startled dream of lovers' morning breath
As white waxed floss greets a child's baby teeth.
But the past is already here, and you are nursing some private plan for your pearly whites.

The worst is not over, yet I know
You will have the breath of angels here. Because of the logic
Of your mouth, which is something no routine of antiseptic gargling can outclean.
Tender and insouciant, your mucous membranes—you see

You have built a mountain of oral ablution,
Thoughtfully pouring all your energy into this single cool burst,
Whose peppermint wind is desire scratching the gums,
Whose disappointment broke into a panoply of teeth.

by Jessica Cornelson
in volume 4 issue 1

Buy a Copy

Return to the Online TOC

No comments:

Post a Comment

What say ye?